Stephen Franks, who has spent many months and years studying the parole system, blogs about misconceptions on parole, and how parole should be reformed. The status quo is unacceptable (something even the Govt and Law Commission now agree) and reforms must happen.
Stephen points out that only a small percentage of criminals who breach the trust that was once the key feature of parole are ever recalled, and even fewer serve much of the rest of their sentence. He points to President Clinton’s reforms as the way ahead, but also some changes to the current system while we have it:
* Restore its status as a privilege not a right;
* Board must be satisfied of genuine remorse;
* Board must take account of victim feelings, of community expectations of a price to be paid for crime, and of the effect of any release on judicial control of sentencing. The 2002 law prevents the Board from recognising these factors;
* No appeals against denial of parole – it is a privilege;
* No legal aid to support parole applications – it is a privilege;
* Police and Corrections should regain immediate power to return parolees to custody on discovery of any breach of terms;
* Court involvement on breach only to hear parolee challenges to the recall reasons, or claims that the breach is trivial, or should otherwise be excused;
* Parole offences should automatically be treated as serious of their class for sentencing purposes, because it is a breach of trust, and shows the absence of remorse;
* Publication of full and accurate statistics on parole offending.
I’m also working on some possible reform ideas which I will blog about in the near future.